Wed, 26 February, 2020
TWI’s Adhesives, Composites and Sealants Senior Project Leader, Sofia Sampethai and Composites Engineer, Luka Hans attended meetings at Fokker-GKN Aerospace and SAM-XL in the Netherlands on 5-6 February, 2020. The meetings, which took place in Hoogeveen and in Delft, allowed for representatives of the TCTool Consortium to provide progress updates on activities within the EU-funded aerospace project.
The TWI-coordinated project is funded as part of the Clean Sky initiative under grant agreement number 865131. The collaborative consortium also includes topic manager GKN Fokker, Brunel University London, London South Bank University, Acroflight Ltd and FADA-CATEC.
The project aims to develop innovative tooling, end effector development and industrialisation for the welding and assembly of thermoplastic fuselage components. This involves finding new approaches to tooling and automation in order to eliminate or reduce fixed tooling costs, which can make up over one-third of non-recurring costs in aircraft assembly.
The use of thermoplastic composites in passenger aircraft would aid light-weighting as compared to the thermoset composites and metals that are currently in use. However, the key advantage of thermoplastics is that they can be joined using welding processes, potentially meaning that there is no need for the many thousands of fasteners used in aircraft assembly, which would improve reliability and lower manufacturing costs.